So as I return home after a month in the Beautiful Queensland Coast with my dear friends, I am struck by how down to earth I felt about this wonderful place. I immediately felt homely in this unknown place. As I left I knew that I would miss the family so much and that saying my Goodbyes would be difficult. But we are all happy in the knowledge that this will not be my last trip to Australia. It is just the beginning of my travels to this part of the world. I guess that hasn’t quite sunken in yet as I sit on the first leg of the flight home. I have rung my partner and heard that they are alright (as alright can be) at home and as my friends family will all be asleep now having journeyed back to Eudlo, where they all stay, part of me is wishing that I was also tucked up in a nice warm bed, but that is for tomorrow.
As I figure out in my fuzzy head a way to get my family over to Australia in one piece, if only it is his dream too, I could perhaps satisfy my wanderlust with regular trips if some of my contacts might put some work my way. Time to make a few more phone calls I think.
Today, my last day in Australia, we visited Coolum Beach, a lovely area which was absolutely littered with blue jellyfish, which apparently have a vicious sting to their rather lengthy tail.
Since I was attacked by a green ant only yesterday, I was not inclined to repeat the exercise with one of these beasties today, so we dodged rather a lot of them along the beach, but the waves were high, we wrote messages on the sand, whilst the boys played and ran up and down. The sun was shining and I looked at the iridescence of the water as the tides crossed my path. It was beautiful and for a moment, I lingered there not wanting to leave.
Swept away in the moment I was transfixed by the waves which reached the shore. Only being brought back to the present when the boys called out to us.
We went on to Coloundra, which is a favourite since my friends Mum currently lives there and it is where they began their time here, just after emigrating. There was a fish restaurant which served wet fish too, it was on a main road, not particularly inspiring as places go, but my meal was enjoyable nevertheless Calamari and Swordfish steaks served with chips and a side salad.
I was quite pleased to see a Pelican fly over the car as we arrived along the beach front and he rested upon the wall of a block of flats. I managed to get a photograph of him before we left. Another thing that I will remember of Coloundra.
There is snow back home, just a few small flurries here and there so I am told, but I hope that he brings a warm coat to the airport, despite the layers I have packed, I know that after the warmth of the Sunshine Coast I am really going to feel the cold at least for the first few days. I may even have to resort to Thermals, but lets hope not.
So what will I be taking with me from this trip?
Positivity, that there is so much that is better and that is actually available to me in this life, not having to wait until the next one to experience it all.
Do I believe in reincarnation…
Hmm, although I have long thought that we get one life and should live it. It’s one of those things that I hope that we do get some kind second chance if the odds have been against us in this life thus far. Not necessarily if we live a pure and chaste existence, but if we do good unto others, try to help people along the way and such like.
I have met up with someone who gave me some wonderful advice regarding writing. She has been an inspiration for looking for the good in things, even when I have felt really low. To meet her in person after all this time, could have gone well, or not and neither of us were sure. We arranged to meet in the last week of my trip. Over a coffee and cake. It was an absolute joy to spend an hour or so with her, chatting about all kinds of things and finding out that we got along just fine. It seems that we have indeed become friends and we will be keeping in touch.
As we drove back from the beach and I squashed all of my luggage into my cases in the hope that I didn’t have to take anything out. My beach combed shells carefully placed in the luggage so that they will not get broken. The beautiful “Blue Shell” given me by my friend, who said I should have it. We sat outside on her verandah in the sunshine and made jewellery from the Quandong stones which we had collected from the garden. Or rather, I drilled the holes, my friend strung them and made them into two rather lovely necklaces, which are enormous, almost architectural in their style. But I also learned that sacred jewellery is made from them by the Aborigines.’ The kids decided since there were so many of them left over, that they would also make some one for their mum and one for a friend and each other. We had picked up and cleaned up much more of them than we first thought from the garden and yet they still litter the floor at the back of the house, there are probably thousands of them and there will be many more when fruit season comes around. It is a shame that I did not get to see the blue fruit, but they have long gone, only the debris remains. But we have seen the jewellery made by the monks at the nearby Buddhist Temple, Chenrezig up on the hill nearby. The only difference being that they have added a bead and tassle to their ones. Ours are simpler, but hang beautifully as a double necklace, made by my own dear friend. There is one for me and one for my mother. Along with a bracelet one of the boys and I made from all of the beach shells and coral that had natural holes in.
I tasted custard apple for the first time today, it has an interesting taste, I think I am more taken with the Mangoes and also the quite amazing Fruit Salad Fruit, a strange looking fruit which as it ripens and sheds its outer skin, you are left with something which resembles a skinned banana, but you can taste so many other fruit.
We each described it differently after a taste, one thought pineapple, another melon, and another banana.
I tried Jack Fruit, which is another native one, it looks a bit like a hedgehog on the outside and has a pungent smell to it when it is ripe, but makes an awful mess and leaves a glue like substance, its sap which is difficult to remove, on everything that it touches. It was my friends’ first taste of the fruit too, she had read that you could prepare it and use it like a vegan version pulled pork, which is very popular. It had a sweet taste in its raw form, which was quite pleasant, definitely fruity. But once cooked takes on a whole new persona. It lost its appeal somewhat and then only took on the taste of the spices and sauce which it was cooked in. So isn’t something I’d be likely to try again.
I thought that I would do some things differently whilst I was away, but didn’t. Firstly I thought that I would write lots of poetry, but didn’t write any at all.
I also thought that I would meditate but although there were times when I sought peace and calm I did not, not even once! Well, not intentionally although the calm swept over me every time my toes hit the sand.
I thought that I might struggle to drive a manual car again on roads which I do not know, with the different layout and rules, but I took to it once again like a duck to water. One drive out in the car, ten minutes in and it all came flooding back to me, the first drive in an unknown place. The South of France all those years ago, it was as natural as breathing. I soon learned some of the routes to enable us to get back home. We did have the mobile sat nav, but when the signal was non existent or the batteries low, we somehow still made it back.
The fact that I was open to trying new things, experiences and directions, meant that this was the holiday that I needed it to be, filled with wonderful places, beautiful sights, friendly and welcoming people. It was a very pleasant surprise to be wished a safe journey, by the people I met around the town before I left. They had observed my arrival, as a tired unwell traveller and observed the change in me finding my feet and would all stop to talk and find out what I thought of their little town.
The nearest town Mooloolah is more like one of our villages, spread out over a greater area, but with similar facilities to a British country village. A few essential stores and a fuel station, but there is a good network of regular trains going past at the bottom of the garden. I have never seen such lengthy freight trains, but maybe next time when I return to this part of the world, I will take a journey on the train with my friend.
As I said Goodbye to the house, the area, my friends and their transport which has carried me safely on this journey, I watched the greenery whizzing by as a passenger in the car, thinking of many of the things that have captured my heart about this place and the many things I have yet to see and feeling quite emotional about leaving.
I will return one day, to my friends again and this place which has captured not just the imagination, but reignited my spirit of adventure and also a little piece of my heart. There is so much to see and I have barely scratched the surface, I simply have to see more.
The weather reported that the cyclone was passing over right where they were. It could have hit at any time. They had been expecting it for days, battening down the hatches and protecting the house and garden hoping that the damage it might cause if any would be minimal.
So far they had been safe. But now at that moment on this day, louder than ever the sea was calling them, they went to answer the call.
Travelling to the beach, there was no sign of bad weather. The sky was bright and clear, a real blue sky for miles with no grey of rain. They parked and bought refreshments at the nearby café. As they stumbled across the sand, past the lake and up the dunes to the top, they paused as they were met with an almost empty beach, no crazy surfers hitting the waves for once heeding the warnings of danger.
The occasional local wandering along, with dogs, racing through the sand and water, charging around barking excitedly. Or others with some companions walking and taking in the spectacle of it all. Lifeguards on patrol retrieving rubbish from the beach, no one out at sea for miles around. She stopped for a moment, looking out with her friend at the softest sand and crystal blue sea gazing in wonder at the sight before them. A wall of waves and foam, about 40 feet in height, the sand being swept up crashing upon the shoreline and their faces.
Suddenly there they were, like little storm hunters barefoot and racing towards it, they ran into the water. Embracing the storm for a moment the wind lashing at their faces and sand biting their skin, cleansed by the elements.
They had gone expecting to find great treasures washed upon the shore, a storm can bring such wonderful things to the beachcomber. Alas, no sooner had the large waves brought in an abundance of things, which they scurried to collect, then another would arrive to sweep the beach clear once again. The beautiful shells and things being replaced by fragments, shattered in the process. But they did not cause sadness, they held a beauty all of their own. For the storm granted them freedom. Yes, freedom to run to jump, to think and to breathe.
They stood, transfixed as the waves grew and broke before them, such power which no one could harness. Nature at its finest and there she walked along, arms outstretched, welcoming it all with a radiant smile. Suddenly with all the previous stresses of her mind now gone, washed away by the storm carefree she walked along with her friend, both of them in silence at the wonder of it all.
Returning in the direction of the car, greeted by wet dogs and smiling people along the way, she thought quietly of her loved ones at home and the moment they had missed. This glorious beach which would be the perfect place to walk, hand in hand with her lover and their beloved dog racing towards the surf. Wind in his fur, tail held high in excitement, hardly anyone around. Miles and miles of pure white sand, not littered by rubbish, but freshly groomed by nature for their pleasure. Her friend in tune with her suddenly voicing the same thoughts agreed, they should be here to enjoy this too it would be the perfect beach for them.
There is something quite surreal to be looking out of the window of an aeroplane at 4.30am local time cruising at 41000 feet past Baghdad and seeing a beautiful full moon out of the window. Lights of an unknown landscape are scattered below me.
At times, it looks like we have somehow come to a halt in the sky, so it’s difficult to believe that we are actually travelling at almost 600 miles per hour.
I didn’t think for a minute when we booked the flight about the countries it would pass over on the way around the world. Bizarrely it didn’t even cross my mind, but as I look at the flight path and it takes me past so many areas that have appeared in the news over the past few years and months, it does get me thinking. But I am not worried, just thinking…
En route we have passed Germany, Belgrade, Budapest, Istanbul.
The awesomeness of this trip of a lifetime suddenly kicks in and I am feeling such gratitude for the opportunity that has been given to me.
I remembered that I thoroughly enjoy flying. The take off, being in the air, the views from the window. Where we I travel once I am on the plane all of the stress that I have felt in preparing for the trip, after the meltdown of finding the airline had cut the luggage allowance, once I had arrived at the airport is gone and but a memory.
As I continue to write we are flying on past Basrah. I don’t know what I expected to see through the clouds it looks just like any other area at night.
The world feels such a small place when you view things on the map and you remember people you have met and the places that they come from. I find myself thinking “ So I know someone from Tehran”, as though they live just up the road and I could pop in to see them.
Many years ago I had a boyfriend whose family were from Kuwait. Although I have never visited these places before, there is something that links me to them as I travel on this journey.
The hostess has just handed me a hot tortilla wrap. It was unexpectedly delicious. It is 2am at home and I wouldn’t normally eat a chickpea curry wrap at that time of the morning, or even anything similar to it but extenuating circumstances apply. Like that occasional naughty kebab on the way home after night outs in my youth.
So although I might body is starting to tire, I didn’t sleep much last night either due to last minute packing and excitement. But I dozed earlier and have awoken with renewed energy and enthusiasm at what else I will see on the next leg of the journey.
Between the snatched sleep I have been listening to Jazz and relaxing chill out tunes. Since my eyes are tired and dry I didn’t want to try and keep track of a fast moving screen with a movie if I was to have any hope of sleep.
I took a little walk around this level of the airbus earlier, since nice my hips were threatening cramp and realised that there were lots of empty seats, people camped out with legs sticking out of blankets everywhere and the poor tired baby who cried for the first two hours has finally gone to sleep. Alas I spoke too soon and the little one has started up again. It always makes me want to give them a cuddle and see if I can help. Sometimes I miss that connection from a past life as a babysitter and honorary auntie.
We have Dammam and Bahrain left on our way to Abu Dhabi and will arrive in about an hour from now. So far it’s been a lovely flight as it is just getting light and the scenery changes again we are blessed with the sunrise from the tail camera on the plane and a new day in this time zone at least. Welcome to March.
As she lay down to sleep, her eyes closing from tiredness.
She asked for her angels to protect her and her loved ones. To keep evil away so that they might be safe and happy and they gain rest and recovery from ailments and worries.
She can see flowers, as though someone has scattered them above her, burgundy and white but she is not sure what they are.
Once again the buzzing of the nerves through her body, like a telephone ringing in her leg. Starting at the toes and radiating up the leg. The wake up call as it were. Does she have a direct line to them she wondered. Do they answer my call in this way?
She was shaken just once but as though two hands rest on her shoulders, were vying for her attention.
Just as she wanted to sleep. Ah insomnia my old friend, so you are back again she thought.
So she waited, willing for sleep to arrive and as she did so it began. The swirling lights on the inside of her eyelids and all around her as she breathed slowly and rhythmically and tried to relax. I think she knew what to expect. This time green mixed with blue, white and gold. Like her very own Aurora Borealis happening right there above her head, a long awaited dream coming true.
Opening her eyes she was not surprised that as before she was wide awake again. Suddenly no longer tired, the body momentarily invigorated by the experience. It happens again and she can still see the lights above her. Reassurance that I did not dream it.
The dog awakes from the other room, not excited by this spectacle, he does not run to look. She does not even know if he sees it or senses it. He takes a leisurely drink and comes to settle at her side just as the light show ends. But she cannot sleep and neither can he, he returns to the darkness of the next room huffing gently that his own sleep was disturbed again but not really knowing why. He will be back when it has settled down. As her body cries out for he sleep and let it wash over her, like the waves of tiredness, rest assured he will be there a furry assistant watching her back. As she drifts off and she looks up the reassuring image before her, that of two hearts in the doorway, beating and pulsating where once was darkness stood.
Some time passes and some sleep is gained before swallowing hard as the noise of piano keys crashing is in her ears. This sudden noise a rude awakening as she is awake once more but comforted by the breathing of the hound who has returned to the side of the bed she realises the message is loud and clear, that love is strong and all that matters.
And after staggered sleep she wakes to the blessing of being able to welcome another day, the sun rising on the new horizon colourful and bright and offering her new hope. Thanking them for the comfort they bring her on the darkest night. The gratitude that she holds for these special moments, the thoughts that she has been part of something special. A shooting star perhaps, flying through the cosmos on its way to somewhere new. A new galaxy to explore, reborn with new light to shine.